RCH Earns National Award for Combating Sepsis, First Critical Access Hospital in Nation To Do So.

Sepsis Alliance, the leading sepsis advocacy organization in the country, names Rooks County Health Center (RCH), a 20-bed critical access hospital in rural Kansas, a 2018 Sepsis Hero. RCH will be one of five heroes honored at the Seventh Annual Sepsis Heroes Gala, September 13 at the Marquee in New York City.

Sepsis Heroes are chosen based on a demonstration of their dedication to raising awareness and improving treatment for sepsis, which is the body’s life-threatening response to infection. The condition affects 1.7 million Americans annually and is responsible for nearly 270,000 deaths per year. According to the University of Kansas Medical Center, mortality rates for sepsis and septic shock in Kansas are as high as 50%, far greater than mortality rates for heart attack (9.6%) or stroke (9.3%).

“Sepsis is not very well known or understood among the general public and, surprisingly, healthcare professionals,” said Thomas Heyman, Executive Director of Sepsis Alliance. “The amazing work our 2018 Sepsis Heroes are doing to raise awareness about sepsis and post-sepsis syndrome, improve sepsis treatment, and reduce readmissions is truly lifesaving.”

RCH’s award-winning sepsis initiative was guided by Stephanie Bjornstad, RN and RCH Quality Director and Risk Manager; Jen Brull, MD and RCH staff physician; and Pam Harmon, RN and RCH Chief Nursing Officer. Asked to describe the amount of effort involved in RCH’s sepsis initiative, Bjornstad explained, “When we first started, the sheer complexity of the challenges of developing our program just seemed overwhelming. Despite those challenges we were able to progress to the point where now our innovations are in place and the program just runs smoothly.” The great strides RCH made in improving sepsis treatment and outcomes for their patients in Western Kansas is reflected in the fact that RCH is the only critical access hospital in the nation to ever receive the Sepsis Hero award.

AJ Thomas, CEO of RCH, stated, “Our entire staff looked at the best practices, adapted them to rural Kansas, implemented them and this saved lives. Sharing an award like this with major, urban academic hospitals illustrates our staff’s initiative and progressive ethos in helping people.”

Harmon and Bjornstad will be the guests of Sepsis Alliance as they travel to the gala in New York to receive the award on behalf of RCH. America’s Got Talent finalist & sepsis survivor, Angelica Hale will perform at the gala where she will be presented with the Erin Kay Flatley Spirit Award Winner. Other Sepsis Hero award winners include Jay Towers, a radio and TV personality; UM-Pulse, the University of Michigan Post ICU Longitudinal Survivor Experience clinic; Jill Kogan Blake, a sepsis survivor; and Sharon Hansen, a critical care nurse educator.


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